Salts and Spice: Not Your Grandmother’s Seasonings!

According to a report from the White House, usage of the synthetic drugs known as Spice and Bath Salts has risen alarmingly in the United States in the past three years.  Calls to poison control centers for human exposure to bath salts skyrocketed from 304 in 2011 to 6,138 in 2012.  That’s an increase of 179%!  Calls for exposure to Spice tripled from 2010 to 2011.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself what are these new drugs?  How dangerous are they?  Are my employees using them? How concerned should I be about their effect on my workplace?

You should be very concerned.

These drugs are synthetics, produced in chemical labs.  They are primarily coming from China and Europe, but experts say it’s just a matter of time before they’re being manufactured right here in the United States.

Spice, also called K2, is a synthetic cannabinoid – meant to mimic THC – the psychoactive component in marijuana.  It’s usually sprinkled on plant substances and smoked.  Short term effects include loss of control, lack of pain response, increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating, uncontrolled body movements, elevated blood pressure and heart rate. The onset of this drug is 3-5 minutes, and the user is high from 1-8 hours.  Users may also experience dysphoria (a medically- recognized mental/emotional condition wherein a person experiences intense feelings of depression, discontent, and indifference) as well as severe paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and increased agitation.

The drug most commonly called Bath Salts is known by many other names including arctic blast, mystic, vanilla sky, gold rush, wicked, lady bubbles, euphoria and cloud nine.  It is a crystalline substance usually snorted. Alarming reports have appeared in the news media due to side effects that include extreme paranoia which can result in users harming themselves or others.  Users can experience suicidal thoughts, agitation, violent and combative behavior, hallucinations and psychosis.

Hospitals all over the county are reporting an alarming increase in cases involving Bath Salts.  You may have read national news stories in which extremely violent behavior, such as one man biting another man’s face off, have been alleged to be the results of Bath Salts abuse.  Bath Salts is an amphetamine ten times more powerful than cocaine which can result in increased heart rate, hypertension, chest pain, serious injury and even death.  Users feel the effects within 15 minutes of ingestion and the high lasts from 4-6 hours.  However, users are highly likely to suffer from long-term neurological affects.

To make matters even more frightening, these drugs are inexpensive and easily obtained.  Labeled as incense and plant fertilizer and frequently marked “not for human consumption,” they can easily be found online or in certain specialty stores.

So what can you as an employer do?

Your best defense is a well-planned Drug-Free Workplace policy.  USAMDT of the Treasure Coast can help you.  Our certified Compliance Specialists can create a customized policy that’s right for your company.  Call us today at 1-800-757-9307, contact us at or visit our website at’s no time to wait.  Let us give you the peace of mind of knowing that you and your employees are working safely, in a drug-free environment.


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